Michael Caine flying around on a giant bee.
I wish I could just write that over and over, because if there is nothing else to recommend Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, the 3-D family action-adventure features Academy Award-winner Sir Michael Caine flying around on a giant bee.
But I'm getting ahead of the story — or should I say, "story." Journey 2 is a sort of sequel to 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth, an adaptation of the classic Jules Verne tale. This episode is loosely based on Verne's The Mysterious Island, with participation from Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Verne's own 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It's as if all your Big Little Books tumbled into a heap and re-bound themselves as a whole new story!
In short order, teen-age Sean (Josh Hutcherson) receives a cryptic communiqué revealing the location of the fabled "Mysterious Island," and he and his stepdad (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) bounce off to the South Pacific to find it. There, they hire a shucking-and-jiving helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his teen-age daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), and get themselves crash-landed on the aforementioned island.
How do they know it's not just a run-of-the-mill tropical island? Well, the bugs are as big as cars, and the elephants are no bigger than cats — and hey, there's Sean's long-lost adventuring granddad (Michael Caine). There's just time for the nickel tour — jungle, tree house, lost city of Atlantis, volcano of gold — before discovering that the island is sinking like right now! And the fastest way to get to safety? Why, by giant bee, of course!
Journey 2 is directed by Brad Peyton, who is responsible for that other loopy 3-D zoological spectacle, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (which, to the best of my knowledge, is not adapted from any Victorian adventure story). Younger kids should get a kick out of Journey 2: It's bright, colorful and derives most of its entertainment value from grade-school gags: falling into a pit of egg goo, punching giant lizards, getting pooped on or having Johnson pop berries off his pectoral muscles right into the audience (if you went big for the 3-D glasses).
Viewers over 10 will be groaning, and there's much to be mildly undone by: the penny's worth of family bonding; the set-up/punchline "dialogue"; the ludicrous plot mash-up; or Johnson taking a break from smiling and flexing his big guns to sing "What a Wonderful World."
But did I mention: Michael Caine flying around on a giant bee!